The view in Kabbalah regarding the nature of light and its function is founded on the Creation narrative in Genesis. Biblically, when the heavens and earth were created initially the earth was in chaos and amorphous. God’s command, “let there be light” not only brings light into existence, but makes it the very foundation upon which creation stands.
The light at first is implicit in the darkness. God refers to the light as goodness and this reference is made before God separates the light from the dark. The light is then made manifest in its own right. At the point where this occurs, dark and light become the revolving cycle of time and of life. There is evening and then morning as each subsequent day of creation emerges.
As God first makes heaven and earth, the earth plane is described as a deep, dark field of chaos and turmoil. Since the darkness is specifically associated with the earth level as it emerges, light by implication is confined originally at the higher level of the heavens. On the earth plane, light is still hidden within the darkness. The heavens are stable and the earth is not. Light and the divine will implicit in it are at first contained in the heavens, not yet manifest on the earthly plane.
The earth at this point has been created, but not yet formatted. So then God says, “Let there be light”, meaning that light is being extended from the higher planes toward the primordial commotion on earth. The effect on our level, the earth plane, is dramatic and vital. Once the light enters this level, it establishes itself here by separating the experience of light from that of dark. Once integrated into our reality, the interplay of light and dark becomes the experience of good and the cycle of life. The reality of light per se is the ordering principle of creation. The presence of light creates and sustains order. There is evening. Then there is morning and another day of creation is finished. Light emerges and follows the darkness in the flow of creative forces. By doing so, the principle of light progressively brings things into existence and then serves as the force behind evolution and development.
On each day of creation a new level of reality unfolds successively. Light follows
the dark. The waters are separated and dry land appears. Then there is darkness again succeeded by light and vegetation appears on the land. The cycle of dark and light repeats and animals begin to appear and so on. Light is the understood as the force that both brings order to chaos, creates the cycles of time and also directs the forces of life that cause progression, change and development in all that exists in the world.
In the physical universe, darkness is the primal matter, the unformed frenetic commotion, waiting to be acted upon and given form and meaning. The dark is the potential of life. In response to the dark and in fulfillment of it is the light. It is the light, which acts upon the deep, on the vast ocean of darkness and potential.
The word of God, the articulation of the divine thought, ‘Let there be light’ is the act of bringing creation, the universe, as we know it, into clear focus and explicit form. Light is the organizational principle that brings everything into definition and imparts function and purpose to all that is. Light is also the very driving force behind change and evolution, which are the central pillars of physical existence. Light represents the flow of life and the expression of our experience as created beings.
Light is the manifestation of the divine will on all levels of existence. The soul is an
eternal spark of the divine, an intense focal point of pure light. So, as long as we are present on the earth, we must remain fully conscious of our role and responsibility here. Our task is to continually bring through the light of creative genius and by doing so, create new levels of meaning and understanding in the world in order to further the evolution of life experience.
We must remain ever conscious of the reality that we as souls are the very embodiment of light on the physical plane, which implies enormous responsibility. That is the essence of the Biblical message. May it be in our hearts and in the forefront of our minds always.
Rabbi Steven Fisdel